Audible Inc. and Apple, both established leaders in the audio download arena, recently joined forces to make more than 20,000 hours of audiobooks and additional spoken word programming available for download exclusively from Apple's iTunes Music Store. At the iTunes site (www.apple.com/itunes/store/books/), Mac and Windows users can find a library of 5,000 spoken-word titles for purchase, including new releases, bestsellers (The DaVinci Code), classics (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), children's books, language lessons, audio editions of magazines and public radio programs such as Car Talk and This American Life. Prices for content range from $2.95 to $15.95 per title. Audible notes that its iTunes content can be burned onto an unlimited number of CDs for personal use, listened to on an unlimited number of Apple iPod devices and played on up to three Mac or Windows computers.
Bonuses for audiobook buffs include the opportunity to preview titles via sound clips on the iTunes site, and the ability to bookmark titles—easily navigate through audio programs and resume listening at any point where a listener left off—on the computer, iPod or iPod mini playback devices. According to Apple, its AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) encoding method—now the industry standard—allows for more efficient file compression and better sound quality than the older MP3 format.